By Cynthia Golembeski, Carolyn Sufrin, Brie Williams, Precious Bedell, Sherry Glied, Ingrid Binswanger, Donna Hylton, Tyler Winkelman, and Jaimie Meyer
Health and economic inequities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately harm women, and particularly women of color, involved in the criminal legal system.
Structural racism, sexism, poverty, substandard healthcare in jails and prisons, and the health effects of incarceration worsen women’s health. The pandemic only compounds these effects. Often overlooked or less visible, incarcerated women are at significantly increased risk of acquiring infectious illness, including COVID-19.
Alternatives to incarceration, and care continuity for chronic health conditions, including substance-use and psychiatric disorders, which disproportionately affect women, are necessary within the current pandemic and beyond.